3 20-Minute Squat-Pushup Pyramid Workouts

Tony Bonvechio
by Tony Bonvechio
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3 20-Minute Squat-Pushup Pyramid Workouts

Are you busy?

Do you want to get in better shape?

The answers to these two questions are pretty much the same no matter who you ask — yes and yes.

To solve this dilemma, time-crunched gym goers need quick and effective workouts to make the most of the little time they have.

These workouts should use full-body exercises that target multiple muscle groups. They also need to have enough volume (sets multiplied by reps) and a sufficient load to make you stronger.

Here, three pyramid workouts that target your entire body and can be completed in 20 minutes or less.

THE PYRAMID CHALLENGE

Pyramid workouts use ascending and descending reps of one or more exercises with limited rest in between sets. Basically, you’re going to do a ton of work in a short period of time. It takes some mental fortitude to complete as quickly as possible.

Popularized by legendary trainer Josh Bryant, the following workouts are known as the Juarez Valley method because they were originally used by prisoners who didn’t have much equipment to use.

THE EXERCISES

These challenges work best with two exercises: squats and pushups. Your own bodyweight is the only equipment you’ll need — trust us, it’s plenty hard without added weight.

SQUAT

The move: Stand with your feet hip-width apart or slightly wider, with your toes turned out slightly. Either keep your hands in front of you (for balance), on your hips (a bit harder) or behind your head (really hard). Push your knees out while sitting your hips back slightly. Lower yourself down until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor while keeping your entire foot flat on the floor (you can go lower if you’re able, but don’t force it). Stand back up and repeat.

PUSHUPS

The move: Support yourself on your hands and toes, with your hands directly under your shoulders. Keep a straight line from head to toe by squeezing your glutes and bracing your core as if you were about to be punched in the stomach. Lower yourself toward the floor while keeping your elbows about 45 degrees from your sides (not flared out at 90 degrees but not directly touching your sides either). Touch your chest to the floor first, and don’t let your head poke forward or your hips sag down. Push yourself away from the floor to return to the start position and repeat. If pushups from the floor are too challenging at first, elevate your hands on a bench, box or similar object.

WORKOUT 1

For the first pyramid challenge, pick one exercise (either squats or pushups). You’ll perform your sets as quickly as you can while walking 5–10 steps as your “rest period” between sets. The fewer steps you take, the more challenging the workout.

Each set is 11 reps. That’s a whopping 110 total reps for the workout. Set a timer to see how quickly you can complete the workout and try to beat your previous time each week.

WORKOUT 2

The second option uses both squats and pushups for a full-body challenge. You’ll do fewer reps, but don’t be fooled; using both your upper and lower body in the same workout makes for a unique challenge.

WORKOUT 3: THE FULL MONTY

As if the first two options weren’t tough enough, this challenge combines the previous two for a 19-set full-body burner.

THE BOTTOM LINE

No matter which challenge you choose, your goal should be to complete the workout faster each time you do it. Whether you use the pyramid once a week in addition to other strength and cardio workouts or even if they’re you’re only form of exercise performed multiple times per week, steady progress is the aim.

About the Author

Tony Bonvechio
Tony Bonvechio

Tony Bonvechio (@bonvecstrength) is the co-owner of The Strength House in Worcester, MA, where he trains primarily powerlifters and team sport athletes. A former college baseball player turned powerlifter, he earned his Master’s degree in Exercise Science from Adelphi University. You can read more from Tony at bonvecstrength.com.

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